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Descriptions of this violence are coded personally: “He is just not a good fit for us.” “That child is loud and aggressive with the other children.” In the mindfulness movement, the narrow definition of mindful bodies can become yet another weapon to be utilized to control, exclude, and criminalize bodies of color within institutions, even as those in power in the movement tout the benefits of mindfulness practices to individuals, institutions, and society.
In unexamined assumptions about quiet, still bodies, critical questions go unformed and unanswered in mindfulness settings.
What is the range of expressions of stillness and movement of bodies present within and across cultures in this environment? When bodies and voices are evaluated as reflecting mindful practice, what cultural lenses/perspectives/bodies are doing the evaluating?
Who is, implicitly and explicitly, granted the power to name, evaluate, and sanction what is mindful behavior?
The unexamined privileging of quietness and stillness in practice can, explicitly and implicitly, result in these becoming the standard for behavior on and off the cushion throughout mindfulness settings.In communication with others, one-to-one or in groups, movement of the body must be perceived as contained, with limited, small gestures of hands, heads, and facial expres- sions. Broader movements and higher volume of voice may be considered out of control, distressing, and/or violent to others.In conflict, bodies must be perceived as even more contained and voices as even more quiet.Whether in the context of joy or distress, the perceived raised volume of voices, in both spoken and non-word sounds, is routinely quieted.For the most part, groups become present through shared silent experiences.